All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Excerpt

"Just try to remember you're in the middle of a story, not at the end of it."
- So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bread Baking

I'm so excited about these two cookbooks that I got for Christmas!  Peter Reinhart is the expert on bread baking, and the recipes look fabulous.  I'm especially eager to try the 100% whole wheat recipes - breads, pitas, pizza dough, focaccia, even crackers.  He introduces a totally new process that allows you to use 100% whole grains without needing to use white flour.  I had already tried the cracker recipes from the copy I had borrowed from the library, and served them for Christmas dinner.  I want to experiment a bit more, then I'll post it my results!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pomegranates Galore!

I LOVE pomegranates, so imagine my delight today when a vendor at Root's offered to sell the rest of his case of pomegranates to me for $5.00 (it was cold and windy, and he was eager to close up and go home)!  I couldn't believe my good fortune, especially since I had just paid $2.00 a piece at Giant (on special!) last week!

I never even knew what a pomegranate was before my friend Julia introduced me to them a few years ago, and I've been hooked ever since.  They're wonderful at Christmas - they're so festive and remind me of expensive jewels.  They're great alone, in salads, or even chocolate covered, as my nephew and I discovered this year.  He loves them even more than I do - it's fun sharing a love of them with him!

Pomegranates are in season October through January.  Select them by weight - the heavier the better.

If you're new to pomegranates, you'll need some instruction on how to peel them.  Watch a YouTube video, or follow my directions below:

First, slice off the crown.

Then, cut out the center core just at the top and score the sides, taking care to cut only through the rind and not into the seeds; otherwise, you'll have juice dripping out.

Immerse the pomegranate in a bowl of water, break it into sections and remove the seeds from the white pith.  Be sure to stay under the water; if not you'll end up with:

No matter how careful I am, I always end up with a few splatters!

Simply skim the white pith off the top of the water, then drain the seeds in a colander.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Golden Gourds

I always hate pitching the fall gourds and pumpkins once December rolls around.  I've even rescued them from ending up in other people's trash cans (thanks, Glo!).  It seems a shame to end their contribution to seasonal decor just because we switch color schemes and holidays, especially if they are still in good shape.  I was happy to discover that a quick spritz with gold paint transforms a fall or Thanksgiving pumpkin into a Christmas decoration.  My nephew did the spray painting for me this year.  He ended up with as much paint on his fingers as on the gourds, but we both were happy with the effect.

Notice the gourd that is transformed into a golden pear!

And, they even perk up a Christmas package!

The only downside - my pumpkins and gourds normally end up on the compost pile, but I don't like to include them once they've been painted.  So, it may not be the best use for them in the long run, but it still feels good to give them a second life!

Chocolate-Covered Pomegranate Seeds

This was my nephew's inspiration!  I thought he'd be thrilled to help me make chocolate candies this year - chocolate-covered pretzels, animal crackers, mini PB Ritz cracker sandwiches - you name it.  Nope - he wanted to do fruit instead!  We tried apples and oranges, then he suggested pomegranates.  I didn't have any on hand, but did give it a try a few days later.  Not bad!  Here's the recipe:

adapted from

2 large pomegranates
1-12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips or coating chocolate

Drain seeds in colander and lay them out on paper towel-lined cookie sheets; place in refrigerator overnight to dry completely.  (Important!  Otherwise, the moisture may cause the chocolate to seize.)
Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave.  Gently fold in pomegranates seeds.  Spoon small clumps onto wax paper or into paper candy cups.
Store in refrigerator no longer than a few days.

Button Christmas Ornaments

I had so much fun making these button ornaments!

Almost everyone I know has fond memories of their mother's button box, tin or jar. I do too, and have been accumulating quite a collection of buttons and vintage sewing trims over the years: some from my mother, some leftover from my days of sewing clothing for myself, some from friends as they clean out their mother and grandmother's sewing supplies, and others from the thrift shop.

I love buttons!

I first got the inspiration for button ornaments from my sister. She showed me a book on all kinds of button crafts when she was here over Thanksgiving. Then, we saw the cutest button ornaments displayed on a tree at Longwood Gardens last month; they were made by elementary students and were simply adorable. I also looked online for some more ideas. These are my creations:

The gold buttons are left over from my days of clothing sewing in the 90's - gold and pearl buttons were all the rage!  These buttons remind me of blouses, dresses and vests I made for myself and others.  :)  I simply spray painted  2" Styrofoam balls with gold paint, then hot glued the buttons.

This one was made with white buttons from my mother's sewing jar; I used pearlized pins to hold the buttons in place; a corsage pin holds a layer of four buttons on the bottom.

This reminds me of a 1950's boudoir!  I can envision these buttons on a salmon-pink quilted housecoat!  :)  These buttons came from a neighbor who was cleaning out her house before moving.  Even the rick rack is the same salmon-pink!

I scoured the thrift shop button box for these green buttons, and took every last one!  I simply strung the buttons on a green pipe cleaner, then tied on a bow. 

As much as I love these ornaments, our family buttons are too special to be hot glued on an ornament.  I want to preserve them in their special jars so we can enjoy rooting through them from time to time.  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quotes Worth Contemplating

"The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise."
- Jerry Sittser, as quoted in Choosing to See, by Mary Beth Chapman

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree...

My nephew decorated my Christmas tree for me this afternoon - so special!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quotes Worth Contemplating

"Being still and doing nothing are two very different things."
- from the movie The Karate Kid

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 Christmas Memory Ornaments

Isn't this a great ornament?!  I love the tree's flirty look.  My sister and I went to Longwood Gardens last Sunday evening to see their Christmas display, and I purchased this ornament in their gift shop for my collection.  It's a wonderful way to remember our day!

This is such a special ornament!  A friend's mother crafted this dear little bunny out of beeswax; it even has a teeny, tiny bow around its neck.  It's a fabulous tribute to my 2010 rabbit-relocation endeavors.  :)


I decided to use this remembrance as an ornament instead of simply allowing it to sit on my bookshelf, collecting dust.  :)

My friend Denise gave me this cute little ladybug ornament to commemorate our day at the Lady Bug Tea Room last month.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

T-shirt Quilt

I just finished this T-shirt quilt for a customer - how fun!  Her daughter had a wonderful collection of T-shirts that were perfect for this type of project. 

I found this fun fabric for the backing; it tied all the colors together nicely.

I selected the yellow buttons to coordinate with the backing fabric, then stitched them on with the "button stitch" function of my new Bernina sewing machine (I'm still learning how to use it!).  On previous T-shirt quilts, I usually hand knotted the layers together, but this time I decided to try tacking the layers together with the button stitch.  It didn't necessarily save time, but I liked the fact that there were no knots of yarn or embroidery floss to detract from the design of the quilt.

Since I had plenty of T-shirts to work with and various logo sizes, I incorporated several different block layouts:

I was pleased with the final product and almost hated to part with it! 
Finished size:  78 1/2" x 78 1/2"
(Block size: 13 x 13")

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Baker's Mission

"The baker's mission is to evoke the full potential of flavor trapped in the flour."
- Peter Reinhart, bread-baking expert and cookbook author

Maybe God is the ultimate Baker??

Birthday Wisdom

A friend sent me this great birthday card - not only were the words so appropriate for how I'm called to live my life these days, but the card itself is a limited edition by collage artist Deborah Hershey.  I plan to frame it so that I can be reminded of its truths on a daily basis!